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Manipulating light at the nanoscale with plasmonics

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Abstract: Interest in nanotechnology is driven by unprecedented means to tailor physical behavior via structure and composition. Most properties, including optical, catalytic, and electronic, can be fine-tuned through choice of composition, size, and shape of nanoparticles. Nanoparticles of free-electron metals, typically gold and silver, can in fact concentrate light via a phenomenon called localized surface plasmon resonances (LSPRs). LSP Rs provide an attractive platform for enhanced photon absorption and scattering (far-field effects) at their (size, shape, and composition-dependent) resonance frequency, while concurrently generating a strong electric field close to the NP’s surface (near-field effects).

This talk will first discuss the fundamental science and established applications of LSP Rs , including refractive index sensing and surface-enhanced spectroscopies. Then, it will address opportunities related to earth-abundant metals that provide cheap, sustainable alternatives to silver and gold. These include aluminum for UV applications and the very recently discovered nanostructured magnesium for enhanced light-matter interactions in the visible range. Together with the well-known noble metal structures, these new metals offer opportunities to harvest and manipulate light at the nanoscale to probe the world around us as well as drive chemical reactions.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Philosophical Society series.

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